Bangladesh became the eighth largest remittance earner in the world as expats sent a record $21.75 billion in 2020, an increase of 18.4% from the previous year, according to the World Bank's latest Migration and Development Brief.
Last year's remittance flow accounted for 6.6% of the country's gross domestic product.
In South Asia, Bangladesh's position remained unchanged at the third position in 2020, only after India and Pakistan.
The remittance inflow was $18.36 billion in 2019, placing Bangladesh in the ninth position globally.
India held onto its position as the largest remittance earner in the world and in the region, having received $83.15 billion in 2020, which was 0.2% less from the previous year.
China was in the second position, with its citizens sending home $59.51 billion in 2020, followed by Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt. They received $42.88 billion, $34.91 billion and $29.60 billion respectively.
The WB said remittance flow showed "remarkable" resilience amid Covid-19 last year, registering a smaller decline than previously projected.
"Remittances are helping to meet families' increased need for livelihood support," said Dilip Ratha, lead author of the report on migration and remittances and head of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development.
Unexpected growth of remittance inflow into South Asia in 2020
Remittance to South Asia increased by about 5.2% in 2020 to $147 billion, driven by a surge in flows to Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Bhutan and Sri Lanka also flagged strong gains last year, while India and Nepal experienced a small drop in remittances.
Pakistan – the second highest recipient of remittances in South Asia and 6th highest globally – received $26.11 billion in 2020 with an increase of 17% from the previous year.
In contrast, remittances to Nepal fell by about 2% to $8.1 billion in 2020. The landlocked country was the 4th remittance earner in the region, followed by Sri Lanka that received $7.14 billion in 2020.
Remittances to Afghanistan dropped by 5% to $789 million that year.
Meanwhile, Bhutan experienced the highest annual growth (47%) of remittance inflows receiving $83 million in 2020.
The WB projected that remittance growth of the region will slow down slightly to 3.5% in 2021 due to a moderation of growth in high-income economies and a further expected drop in migration to the Gulf countries.
Michal Rutkowski, global director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank, said, "As Covid-19 still devastates families around the world, remittances continue to provide a critical lifeline for the poor and vulnerable.
"Supportive policy responses, together with national social protection systems, should continue to be inclusive of all communities, including migrants."